Donbass stories – Max

by Giorgio Bianchi

Leaving tens of thousands dead or injured, and more than one million as refugees, the civil war in Donbass has literally wiped towns and villages entirely off the map, and stained European soil with blood for the first time in the 21st century.
Despite the numerous ceasefires agreed in Minsk, the war continued to flare up from September 2014. Since then the conflict has turned into exhausting trench warfare. As in World War I, offensives are preceded by gruelling artillery duels and mostly result in gains of only a few hundred metres of territory.
From June 2016, the clashes suddenly became more intense, especially in the northeastern part of ​​Donetsk, around the villages of Spartak, Adiivka and Yasenavataya. It has been estimated that each day during the summer the two sides fired up to two thousand heavy artillery rounds across the entire length of the frontline.
Max is a young man of 21-years, who, as soon as he came of age, enlisted in the separatists’ militia in the early days following the outbreak of the conflict. Before the war Max was a professional hockey player and usually travelled with his team each week from one city in Ukraine to another to play in the national competition.
Max is married to Irina, a 19-year-old girl whom he has known since adolescence, who gave birth to their first child the day after the terrible night bombardment of her husband’s garrison.
Today Max has left the army so as to spend more time with his family and to pick up his career in hockey from where he left it before the war (Text by Giorgio Bianchi).

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